The Content Strategist

How Equinox Makes Money From Luxury Content

There’s a difference between wanting to produce high-quality luxury content and actually doing it. While 73 percent of marketers say developing more engaging content is their top priority, only a handful of brands actually run successful content programs.

One such brand is Equinox, the luxury fitness chain that sets itself apart from other high-end gyms with content that emulates the brand’s elite fitness experience.

In January of 2016, Equinox launched an online magazine called Furthermore that offers a mix of lifestyle, fashion, technology, and travel stories; videos; shoppable features; and third-party content curated by its editors. Readers can find information on diverse topics, from the health benefits of massage to meatless dinner recipes. Photo slideshows take viewers to “Healing Waters Around the World,” for example, while short original videos such as “The Zen of Flower Arranging” provide useful advice.

According to Liz Miersch, editor-in-chief of Furthermore, the online magazine works to connect with readers by telling stories about how to take care of their bodies and minds, both inside and outside the gym. Equinox’s use of visually stimulating science, nutrition, and lifestyle tutorials resonates well with its fitness-obsessed audience.

“When we surveyed the editorial landscape, we saw a wide-open space where true fitness science unites with an elevated, premium aesthetic,” Miersch said. “The Equinox brand has every right to own that.”

Building on what you’ve got

In most cases, developing a brand magazine—or any structured content system—will involve repurposing and curating content that already exists. Furthermore was the evolved version of Equinox’s blog, Q, which launched in 2011. Miersch points to videos like “The Contortionist,” which has been viewed more than 10 million times, as an example of the channel’s ability to reach and connect with a widespread customer base. Ultimately, the blog’s success motivated Equinox to become more ambitious with its content.

While Furthermore retains Q’s original voice, Equinox views Furthermore as an entirely separate business venture with the power to generate revenue that can be reinvested in the magazine. It offers ad space and marketing opportunities to third-party advertisers eager to reach an affluent, fitness-focused demographic.

Equinox’s first advertising partner was Smartwater, with whom the publication created an interactive native ad. After users took a quiz, the native ad served up a unique inspiration board based on their health-related interests and goals.

Equinox sells and manages advertising in-house, carefully selecting each client and working directly with partners to craft campaigns. “The model we’re creating is very custom,” Miersch said, “and the plan is to only partner with a few select brands each year.”

Leave it to the pros

Equinox’s editorial success shouldn’t come as a surprise. Miersch hails from Condé Nast’s Self magazine while Sheila Monaghan, Furthermore’s executive editor, was a former editor at Details. Ashley Heckman, Furthermore’s senior photo and video editor, previously worked with Women’s Wear Daily.

“Content will continue to be a huge piece of how we market the Equinox brand,” Miersch said. “It’s a major differentiator for us.”

“There is no way we could have grown the way we’ve grown without the incredible editorial team we’ve built here,” Miersch said. “Everyone on staff has a traditional magazine background. There is just no better training ground than that.”

The company’s editorial operations fits comfortably within the company’s larger marketing and PR strategy. Equinox uses email to nurture relationships with Furthermore readers and relies on social media channels like Instagram and Pinterest to increase awareness, drive traffic, and build loyal readership.

“Content will continue to be a huge piece of how we market the Equinox brand,” Miersch said. “It’s a major differentiator for us.”

This is an excerpt from the e-book “The Marketer’s Guide to Luxury Content.” Fill out the form below to download your free copy.